Veterinary Public Health Institute, Animal Welfare Division

Vivian Witjes

Doctoral Student

Center for proper housing: poultry and rabbits (ZTHZ)

+41 31 631 57 55
Postal Address
Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ)
Animal Welfare Division
Veterinary Public Health Institute
University of Bern
Burgerweg 22
3052 Zollikofen


Effects of on-farm hatching on behavioural-, cognitive- and physical measures of welfare during the development of laying hens.

While obtaining my BSc in Psychobiology at the University of Amsterdam, I discovered a great interest in neurobiology. When studying the effect of vesicle associated protein depletion on neuronal growth in mice during my first internship, my interests for biomedical neuroscience shifted to an appreciation for the animal's cognitive abilities, the complexity of their behaviour and their position in a human society. Therefore, I chose to focus my MSc in Environmental Biology at Utrecht University on animal ethology and welfare. During my second internship, I investigated the memory performance of first- and lastborn piglets on a cognitive hole-board task. Lastly, I worked on how keel bone fractures in laying hens affect their behaviour and movement patterns. I will continue in the field of poultry welfare throughout my Ph.D., assessing cognitive, behavioural, and physical welfare indicators across the development of on-farm hatched chicks compared to transported day-old chicks.